Circular RNAs are a large group of RNAs whose cellular functions are still being investigated. We recently proposed that circSMARCA5 acts as sponge for the splicing factor Serine and Arginine Rich Splicing Factor 1 (SRSF1) in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). After demonstrating by RNA immunoprecipitation a physical interaction between SRFS1 and circSMARCA5, we assayed by real-time PCR in a cohort of 31 GBM biopsies and 20 unaffected brain parenchyma controls (UC) the expression of total, pro-angiogenic (Iso8a) and anti-angiogenic (Iso8b) mRNA isoforms of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A (VEGFA), a known splicing target of SRSF1. The Iso8a to Iso8b ratio: (i) increased in GBM biopsies with respect to UC (p-value < 0.00001); (ii) negatively correlated with the expression of circSMARCA5 (r-value = −0.46, p-value = 0.006); (iii) decreased in U87-MG overexpressing circSMARCA5 with respect to negative control (p-value = 0.0055). Blood vascular microvessel density, estimated within the same biopsies, negatively correlated with the expression of circSMARCA5 (r-value = −0.59, p-value = 0.00001), while positively correlated with that of SRSF1 (r-value = 0.38, p-value = 0.00663) and the Iso8a to Iso8b ratio (r-value = 0.41, p-value = 0.0259). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis showed that GBM patients with low circSMARCA5 expression had lower overall and progression free survival rates than those with higher circSMARCA5 expression (p-values = 0.033, 0.012, respectively). Our data convincingly suggest that circSMARCA5 is an upstream regulator of pro- to anti-angiogenic VEGFA isoforms ratio within GBM cells and a highly promising GBM prognostic and prospective anti-angiogenic molecule.
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) have recently emerged as a new class of RNAs, highly enriched in the brain and very stable within cells, exosomes and body fluids. To analyze their involvement in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) pathogenesis, we assayed the expression of twelve circRNAs, physiologically enriched in several regions of the brain, through real-time PCR in a cohort of fifty-six GBM patient biopsies and seven normal brain parenchymas. We focused on hsa_circ_0001445 (circSMARCA5): it was significantly downregulated in GBM biopsies as compared to normal brain tissues (p-value < 0.00001, student’s t-test), contrary to its linear isoform counterpart that did not show any differential expression (p-value = 0.694, student’s t-test). Analysis of a public dataset revealed a negative correlation between the expression of circSMARCA5 and glioma’s histological grade, suggesting its potential negative role in the progression to malignancy. Overexpressing circSMARCA5 in U87MG cells significantly decreased their migration, but not their proliferation rate. In silico scanning of circSMARCA5 sequence revealed an enrichment in binding motifs for several RNA binding proteins (RBPs), specifically involved in splicing. Among them, serine and arginine rich splicing factor 1 (SRSF1), a splicing factor known to be a positive controller of cell migration and known to be overexpressed in GBM, was predicted to bind circSMARCA5 by three different prediction tools. Direct interaction between circSMARCA5 and SRSF1 is supported by enhanced UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (eCLIP) data for SRSF1 in K562 cells from Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE). Consistently, U87MG overexpressing circSMARCA5 showed an increased expression of serine and arginine rich splicing factor 3 (SRSF3) RNA isoform containing exon 4, normally skipped in a SRSF1-dependent manner, resulting in a non-productive non-sense mediated decay (NMD) substrate. Interestingly, SRSF3 is known to interplay with two other splicing factors, polypyrimidine tract binding protein 1 (PTBP1) and polypyrimidine tract binding protein 2 (PTBP2), that positively regulate glioma cells migration. Collectively, our data show circSMARCA5 as a promising druggable tumor suppressor in GBM and suggest that it may exert its function by tethering the RBP SRSF1.
Uveal melanoma (UM) represents approximately 5-6% of all melanoma diagnoses and up to 50% of patients succumb to their disease. Although several methods are available, accurate diagnosis is not always easily feasible because of potential accidents (e.g., intraocular hemorrhage). Based on the assumption that the profile of circulating miRNAs is often altered in human cancers, we verified whether UM patients showed different vitreous humor (VH) or serum miRNA profiles with respect to healthy controls. By using TaqMan Low Density Arrays, we analyzed 754 miRNAs from VH, vitreal exosomes, and serum of 6 UM patients and 6 healthy donors: our data demonstrated that the UM VH profile was unique and only partially overlapping with that from serum of the same patients. Whereas, 90% of miRNAs were shared between VH and vitreal exosomes, and their alterations in UM were statistically overlapped with those of VH and vitreal exosomes, suggesting that VH alterations could result from exosomal dysregulation. We report 32 miRNAs differentially expressed in UM patients in at least 2 different types of samples analyzed. We validated these data on an independent cohort of 12 UM patients. Most alterations were common to VH and vitreal exosomes (e.g., upregulation of miR-21,-34 a,-146a). Interestingly, miR-146a was upregulated in the serum of UM patients, as well as in serum exosomes. Upregulation of miR-21 and miR-146a was also detected in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded UM, suggesting that VH or serum alterations in UM could be the consequence of disregulation arising from tumoral cells. Our findings suggest the possibility to detect in VH and serum of UM patients "diagnostic" miRNAs released by the affected eye: based on this, miR-146a could be considered a potential circulating marker of UM.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and circular RNAs (circRNAs) contribute to the onset of many neoplasias through RNA-RNA competitive interactions; in addition, they could be secreted by cancer cells into biological fluids, suggesting their potential diagnostic application. By analyzing the expression of 17 lncRNAs and 31 circRNAs in biopsies and serum exosomes from colorectal cancer (CRC) patients through qRT-PCR, we detected CCAT1, CCAT2, HOTAIR, and UCA1 upregulation and CDR1AS, MALAT1, and TUG1 downregulation in biopsies. In serum exosomes, UCA1 was downregulated, while circHIPK3 and TUG1 were upregulated. Combined receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves of TUG1:UCA1 and circHIPK3:UCA1 showed high values of sensitivity and specificity. Through in vitro (i.e., RNA silencing and mitogen-activated protein kinase [MAPK] inhibition) and in silico analyses (i.e., expression correlation and RNA-RNA-binding prediction), we found that UCA1 could (1) be controlled by MAPKs through CEBPB; (2) sequester miR-135a, miR-143, miR-214, and miR-1271, protecting ANLN, BIRC5, IPO7, KIF2A, and KIF23 from microRNA (miRNA)-induced degradation; and (3) interact with mRNA 3′-UTRs, preventing miRNA binding. UCA1 and its co-regulated antisense LINC01764 could interact and reciprocally mask their own miRNA-binding sites. Functional enrichment analysis of the RNA-RNA network controlled by UCA1 suggested its potential involvement in cellular migration. The UCA1 regulatory axis would represent a promising target to develop innovative RNA-based therapeutics against CRC.
In this study, for the first time, we demonstrated the presence of microRNAs and extracellular vesicles in human blastocoel fluid. The bioinformatic and comparative analyses identified the biological function of blastocoel fluid microRNAs and suggested a potential role inside the human blastocyst. We found 89 microRNAs, expressed at different levels, able to regulate critical signaling pathways controlling embryo development, such as pluripotency, cell reprogramming, epigenetic modifications, intercellular communication, cell adhesion and cell fate. Blastocoel fluid microRNAs reflect the miRNome of embryonic cells and their presence, associated with the discovery of extracellular vesicles, inside blastocoel fluid, strongly suggests their important role in mediating cell communication among blastocyst cells. Their characterization is important to better understand the earliest stages of embryogenesis and the complex circuits regulating pluripotency. Moreover, blastocoel fluid microRNA profiles could be influenced by blastocyst quality, therefore, microRNAs might be used to assess embryo potential in IVF cycles.
MiR-671-5p is encoded by a gene localized at 7q36.1, a region amplified in human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most malignant brain cancer. To investigate whether expression of miR-671-5p were altered in GBM, we analyzed biopsies from a cohort of forty-five GBM patients and from five GBM cell lines. Our data show significant overexpression of miR-671-5p in both biopsies and cell lines. By exploiting specific miRNA mimics and inhibitors, we demonstrated that miR-671-5p overexpression significantly increases migration and to a less extent proliferation rates of GBM cells. Through a combined in silico and in vitro approach, we identified CDR1-AS, CDR1, VSNL1 as downstream miR-671-5p targets in GBM. Expression of these genes significantly decreased both in GBM biopsies and cell lines and negatively correlated with that of miR-671-5p. Based on our data, we propose that the axis miR-671-5p / CDR1-AS / CDR1 / VSNL1 is functionally altered in GBM cells and is involved in the modification of their biopathological profile.
The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway has a master control role in various cancer-related biological processes as cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. It also regulates many transcription factors that control microRNAs (miRNAs) and their biosynthetic machinery. To investigate on the still poorly characterised global involvement of miRNAs within the pathway, we profiled the expression of 745 miRNAs in three colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines after blocking the pathway with three different inhibitors. This allowed the identification of two classes of post-treatment differentially expressed (DE) miRNAs: (1) common DE miRNAs in all CRC lines after treatment with a specific inhibitor (class A); (2) DE miRNAs in a single CRC line after treatment with all three inhibitors (class B). By determining the molecular targets, biological roles, network position of chosen miRNAs from class A (miR-372, miR-663b, miR-1226*) and class B (miR-92a-1*, miR-135b*, miR-720), we experimentally demonstrated that they are involved in cell proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and globally affect the regulation circuits centred on MAPK/ERK signaling. Interestingly, the levels of miR-92a-1*, miR-135b*, miR-372, miR-720 are significantly higher in biopsies from CRC patients than in normal controls; they also are significantly higher in CRC patients with mutated KRAS than in those with wild-type genotypes (Wilcoxon test, p < 0.05): the latter could be a downstream effect of ERK pathway overactivation, triggered by KRAS mutations. Finally, our functional data strongly suggest the following miRNA/target pairs: miR-92a-1*/PTEN-SOCS5; miR-135b*/LATS2; miR-372/TXNIP; miR-663b/CCND2. Altogether, these results contribute to deepen current knowledge on still uncharacterized features of MAPK/ERK pathway, pinpointing new oncomiRs in CRC and allowing their translation into clinical practice and CRC therapy.
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